Today, it’s empty. The nest, shabby and lopsided, sets like a permanent fixture in the branch of a fast fading crepe myrtle.
Only a few weeks ago the summer flowering bush had been alive with countless comings and goings as Mama and Papa Robin gathered supplies to build a snug retreat right out my bathroom window. My own reality show was about to begin A couple of days later when mama bird began nesting in her new home, I decided to snoop around and see how many babies would soon be chirping at the window.
I approached, step-stool in hand, as Mama flew off with loud shrieking and considerable flapping of wings. She was letting me know to stay away from her potential family. Imagine my surprise when I saw no eggs–not one single egg in the newly constructed nest.
Not one. . .zero . . .
The scene changed little the next days. She rarely left; I decided it was time to check again as she was regularly nesting.
No eggs, not one. . .
I suspected that Mama Bird may have laid them the first day or two. And sometime between then and my first peek, a snake, a blue jay, who knows what? –someone enjoyed Eggs Benedict. Perhaps, the brooding female was spending an extra day or two grieving. Then she would flee, pretending nothing had happened. Life would soon be back to normal.
BUT NO –she stayed alone in the leafy retreat for weeks. Mother Robin was attentive and faithful to an empty nest, only leaving it when I opened the window or came too near the bush.
What was she doing? What was she waiting on? Was she indeed grieving? Do mother robins have an innate instinct that forces them to sit long, too long, on a nest of aborted babies? Google could not answer my questions.
One predawn morning three weeks later , I “asked” my routine, daily questions of her as I opened the window. For days now, she had refused to fly off and would look at me with saddened eyes –I think I may have imagined those– 🙂
This particular morning those same questions suddenly stormed around me. It was as if this bird asked me. What are you waiting on? How many times have you waited, held on to something that will never happen? Remember how long you waited for an answer, refusing to give up? You kept hoping –
you waited on your nest–.
Later that morning I watched the robin hop to the edge of the nest, perching there for some minutes, seemingly letting go of memories, hopes–what was it? Next, she was gone. She never returned. I think she must have known the principle in Isaiah 30: “you will be delivered by returning and resting; your strength will lie in quiet confidence.” v15
The average American spends 38 hours a year stuck in traffic (more if you live in Los Angeles). We all wait, wait, wait for somebody, something. Waiting as the robin did is a good waiting, a productive waiting.
A waiting on God . . .
Sue Monk Kidd, a best selling author, tells a story that reflects our often mistaken viewpoint on waiting. She spent some time in a retreat at a monastery. One day she noticed a monk:
“He was sitting perfectly still beneath a tree. There was such reverence in his silhouette, such tranquil sturdiness, that I paused to watch. He was the picture of waiting.
“Later I sought him out. ‘I saw you today sitting beneath the tree—just sitting there so still. How is it that you can wait so patiently in the moment? I can’t seem to get used to the idea of doing nothing.’
“He broke into a wonderful grin. ‘Well, there’s the problem right there, young lady. You’ve bought into the cultural myth that when you’re waiting you’re doing nothing.’
“Then he took his hands and placed them on my shoulders, peered straight into my eyes and said, ‘I hope you’ll hear what I’m about to tell you. I hope you’ll hear it all the way down to your toes. When you’re waiting, you’re not doing nothing. You’re doing the most important something there is. You’re allowing your soul to grow up. If you can’t be still and wait, you can’t become what God created you to be.’”
I’m not sure about Mother Robin. Was she wasting time, doing nothing–dreaming of ‘what might be’. Or did she need her heart, her soul, to grow up?
As I do . And how long do I wait? Until I have become all God created me to be.
Nesting, waiting–becoming. . .waiting.